In Season: Cherries
By Michele Laverty
Living in Central California means we have many opportunities to eat amazing and healthy foods right from our own backyards and nearby orchards. The sweet, but short fresh cherry season is no exception, bringing the best of the Bings, Raniers and Queen Anne’s into our kitchens and lunch pails.
Not only are cherries a treat to eat, but they are also one of the healthiest snacks Mother Nature has provided for us. A single fresh cherry is just 60 calories packed with one gram of protein and two grams of fiber! They also contain the antioxidant melatonin, which can calm brain neurons helping with insomnia and headaches. Cherries can be your go-to sweet and healthy treat!
The history of cherries in the United States can be traced to English colonists who first brought cherry trees to the United States in the 1600s. Spanish missionaries introduced the fruits to California and the crop took hold in the San Joaquin and Santa Clara Valleys in the 1800s. Today, California is a leading grower of sweet cherries with over 82,000 tons produced.
Cherry Vanilla Cupcakes
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
- 4 egg whites
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. baking soda
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 1/3 cup maraschino cherry juice
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- maraschino cherries with stems (optional garnish)
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons maraschino cherry juice or milk
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
To Make the Cupcakes:
Allow butter and egg whites to stand at room temp. for 30 min. Line twenty-four baking cups with paper bake cups (or coat with cooking spray). Mix flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. In a separate bowl, whisk buttermilk and cherry juice until combined; set aside.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, vanilla, and almond extract; beat until combined. Add egg whites, one at a time; beat well after each addition. Alternately, add flour mixture and buttermilk mixture to beaten mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined.
Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each about two-thirds full. Bake 15 to 18 min., or until tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool cupcakes on wire racks until completely cooled.
Frost the cupcakes using a piping bag, or spread the frosting on with a knife. If desired, top with cherries.
To Make the Frosting:
Beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Gradually add 2 cups of the powdered sugar, beating well. Beat in maraschino cherry juice and almond extract. Gradually beat in additional powdered sugar. If needed, beat in additional juice or milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until frosting reaches a spreading consistency. Makes 4 cups frosting.
- 3 tbs. butter, melted
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ cup milk
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 tbs. cornstarch
- 1 cup boiling water
- 3 ⅓ cups fresh cherries, pitted
- 2/4 cup white sugar
Mix ¾ cup sugar, butter, flour, salt, baking powder and milk together. Place cherries in the bottom of a 9-inch square pan. Spread dough over cherries.
Combine 1 cup sugar and cornstarch. Stir in boiling water. Pour mixture over the dough.
Bake at 350°F for 45 min. Serve warm.